Digital technologies have become an integral part of learning and teaching in the classroom and in the past year have been pushed to the forefront of education. This has been a necessity for education to continue in the face of the pandemic. The importance of using digital technologies in the classroom has been highlighted by the Scottish Government in their 2016 national improvement strategy which aims to enrich “education across all areas of Curriculum for Excellence” and if properly integrated it has the potential to “enhance learning and teaching, equip our children and young people with vital digital skills and crucially, it can lead to improved educational outcomes” (ibid). Digital technology has a firm place in Scottish Education and is a key focus of Curriculum for Excellence, Initial Teacher Education training programmes and the General Teaching Council for Scotland’s Professional Standards (Scottish Government, 2016, 3).
During this phase of online learning, engagement has been a key concern for all educators to ensure continuity of learning during this disruptive period of education. Engagement is difficult to define and may focus on behavioural, emotional, and cognitive aspects (Fredricks, Blumenfeld and Paris, 2004). For the purpose of this enquiry, we will focus on behavioural engagement – the pupils’ participation in lessons (ibid). This will be measured via assignment submission rather than likes or comments on Teams’ posts. In a physical classroom there are various strategies that teachers employ to improve engagement and support pupils to focus on tasks. However, this has become more difficult in an online setting. A drop in the number of pupils engaging with online lessons and assignments was seen across the group and addressing this was a key concern driving our chosen area of enquiry.
Nieme et al (2018), highlighted that “students are more engaged when they are interested in their work, persisting in it despite challenges and obstacles, and taking visible delight in accomplishing work goals”. As we continue in our online setting, it is necessary that we do all we can to increase the likelihood of pupils engaging with their work and continuing their learning. This involves being aware of the difficulties pupils face in feeling motivated online and changing our learning and teaching methods in response to this.
The aim of this practitioner enquiry was to investigate what happens to assignment submissions when a weekly quiz is introduced to the digital classroom. The enquiry aimed to see whether adding a weekly quiz and leader board would increase engagement and in turn increase assignments submission numbers.